Photo by Ryan Pyle

Photo by Ryan Pyle

Less than one week after Chinese Ministry of Land and Resources officials announced a crackdown on illegal land use, including golf courses, government inspectors arrived at King Valley Country Club in Zhejiang province’s Anji county. Less than one week after that, bulldozers showed up and started tearing up fairways on King Valley’s tournament golf course.

The government’s case was simple: King Valley did not have proper approval to develop around a quarter of its land, and some of the land they used was protected farmland. And anyway, all golf course development in China was supposedly made illegal in 2004.

Look closer, however, and things get murky. There’s corruption, betrayal and pissed off peasant farmers. There are policies from Beijing, and counter-policies in the provinces. And to golf professionals working in China, all that sounds like just another day at the office.

Read the whole story, entitled “The Forbidden Game,” at Slate, and please enjoy the related photo essay below, featuring images from Shanghai-based documentary photographer Ryan Pyle. Just click on one of the thumbnails to get started.

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